In the course of our work at the District Attorney’s Office, we often discover new and better ways to look at, organize, and interpret the data. We make changes and updates to the Public Data Dashboard to keep it as accurate and informative as possible. We also want to be clear to users of this site about the changes we’ve made. This page is a timeline of updates, fixes, and changes that we’ve implemented.
We have made several content and user experience updates to the dashboard. This is the first in a series of updates over the next few months to improve the dashboard.
We have removed several of the columns comparing time periods beyond year-to-year. While these comparisons were useful at the launch of the dashboard, they have become less so as the time period has increased. The COVID-19 pandemic changed how the court systems functioned, making direct comparisons misleading.
We have replaced the color scale for charts on all report pages. There are only so many shades of blue, and we were running out of them.
We have changed how the home page pulls data stories and data snapshots. We are now pulling from the new District Attorney’s Office website and providng both data stories and snapshots as separate categories. The Data Stories link in the menu bar has also been updated to link to the new website.
We made a number of small improvements:
We added additional ways to highlight that the criminal legal system has operated differently during the pandemic. There is a popup that appears notifying users, we have highlighted the graph and table for periods during the pandemic, and we have added a note to the table explaining the pandemic’s impact.
We added links from the offense categories and case outcomes to the definitions page so that users can understand exactly what each phrase means. We hope this will create a broader understanding of the work we are presenting on the dashboard.
The case outcomes includes a row for ‘cases opened at the end of the time period.’ The goal is to help people understand how the backlog of cases has changed during the pandemic, particularly in more serious cases.
Offense Categorization: We have changed the way offenses are categorized on the dashboard for arrest and case data. In October 2021, the Philadelphia Police Department ended support for FBI UCR categorization of offenses for cases received by the District Attorney’s Office. This meant that we could no longer use UCR categorization on the Public Data Dashboard. In this update, we have introduced a new classification system that is based on the Pennsylvania statutes of the most serious offense suggested by police for the Arrests and Summary Arrests and the most serious offense charged by the District Attorney’s Office for the Charges, Bail, Outcomes, Case Length, Future Years of Incarceration, Future Years of Supervision, Summary Charges, Summary Case Outcomes, Summary Case Length Reports. The Incidents report is unaffected. While this change means categorizations of an event may change between incident, arrest, and case charging, it allows for a more accurate and complete view of each stage in the process. It also allows us to categorize more offenses than we could previously. For more information about these classifications see this data story and the updated Definitons page. The Limitations page has also been updated to reflect these changes.
Technical Updates: We have rewritten the internals of the layout to make use of Bootstrap 5. This will help us maintain a more modern and multi-device compatible layout. We have also made several behind-the-scenes, ease-of-use, and bug fix updates that will improve the overall experience of the site.
We have added a DAO Publications section to the Research Page. This section includes reports on internal studies at the District Attorney’s Office.We have also reorganized the menu to simplify it and make it more clear which reports are year-to-date and which are year-end.
We have added a line denoting March 2020 to all reports. This was the month that the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown of many essential government functions in Philadelphia, including the court system. It also lead to several policy changes in the Philadelphia Police Department and at the District Attorney’s Office. The purpose of this addition is to enable users of the site to more easily view the data in the context of the pandemic.We have also changed the text of two firearms labels to more clearly state what the data shows: ‘All Firearms Offenses’ has become ‘All Firearms Possession’ and ‘Possession of Firearms’ has become ‘Illegal Firearms Possession’.
Updates and fixes, including: